How do you persuade an 85-year-old women to eat even though she says she chews the food and it won't go down?

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My 85 year old Mom suffers from many ailments - the worst being congestive heart failure. She is on many meds, and puffers as well. She says she's lost her sense of taste and eats so little, it's scaring me. She's lost weight as well. Her dietician told her to eat small meals during the day. She takes Ensure also. She says the problem is - she repeately chews the food and it won't go down. She swallows her pills and oatmeal and fruits, but foods such as chicken, steak etc. pose a problem. She is going to the ENT this week so maybe she can get an answer to this problem. Her husband has tried everything to entice her to eat more, but it's so difficult.

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I just realized something, at the NH... I noticed 80% of residence always complain about the food It is tasteless etc. I am honestly a very picky eater, everything I have had there is fresh and yummy, mom thinks so too(she has a good appetite)... she even eats her veggies... she hates veggies. It may be the meds, side effects or like children they would rather eat candy. Some residents take till dinner to finish lunch , but they do eat, slowly but surely. Your a good caregiver for having these real concerns. Sounds like your trying to give her a healthy diet. best wishes
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thanks for your answers. thank goodness my mom never had a stroke. she has congestive heart failure - under control with many meds. the thing is, she can swallow, because she takes her pills, eats berries with oatmeal, etc. I make her my special bran muffins and she can certainly swallow those as well. It's because she's lost her taste buds, and food is not appealing to her, no matter how tasty it is. she keeps the food in her mouth and chews and chews and finally swallows. I hope there's a solution to this problem, because she' lost alot of weight, and it's worrying me.
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Try this recipe it may just work: cook ...oatmeal (not instant), mix oatmeal with ensure, ice cream, and blue berry's, puree all... and refreeze I know a woman living on only this for 2 years now!!! Sometimes she gets just ice cream with chocolate sauce. Yummy!!! It's a miracle but it works.
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Your mom may need a swallow test to help determine what is going on. Until then, offer lots of soft food that requires little chewing. Cottage cheese might work. Yogurt. Scrambled eggs might be easier than steak. Cream soups without chunks or soup smoothed in a blender or food processor, mashed potatoes, mashed squash, pureed sweet potatoes -- follow her lead regarding what she is comfortable swallowing at this point. Small bites, well-chewed, swallowed, and followed with a second swallow before taking the next small bite may be more successful. A swallow study can help pinpoint what will be most effective.

In addition to/instead of Ensure, Carnation Breakfast Essentials mixed in whole milk provides nutrients. My husband likes it heated as a hot chocolate drink. I also add an envelope when I make him a milk shake.

I'd respect her views of what she can and cannot swallow, and try hard to provide a range of items of the consistency she is comfortable with.

Here is a tip: some people find foods that we expect to find soft and creamy more appealing that firm food pureed. For example cream of chicken soup, perhaps with extra chicken and smoothed in a blender, may seem more "natural" and appealing than a scoop of plain pureed chicken.

Good luck!
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Arlee72: In your profile, you mentioned that your mom had a stroke. It may have no connection, but a stroke can cause a swallowing issue. This definitely needs to be checked out medically. It could be a restriction in her esophagus. You may have to puree chicken and other foods that require chewing so she can swallow them.

Good luck and keep us posted. I hope you get answers soon. Cattails.
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